US intensifies efforts to end crisis in Egypt


Cairo, Feb 6 (PTI) The US today stepped up efforts for aspeedy transition of power in Egypt, where embattled PresidentHosni Mubarak''s powerful son Gamal and top leaders of rulingparty quit their posts, amid reports that key opposition groupMuslim Brotherhood has entered talks with officials on endingthe 13-day revolt against the regime.

Protesters braved heavy rains to stay overnight at theTahrir (Liberation) Square, the hub of the unrelentingdemonstrations against Mubarak''s 30-year regime.

The scene in Tahrir area, which has become a "tent city"with tens of thousands of people demonstrating there almosteveryday, was relatively calm shortly before dawn today,Al-Jazeera said.

In a bid to end the crisis, the outlawed opposition groupMuslim Brotherhood said it was joining talks with new VicePresident Omar Suleiman, it said.

The group had previously rejected any dialogue until82-year-old Mubarak steps down.

Describing the announcement as "highly significant", thechannel said the Muslim brotherhood is "interested in talkingabout the resignation" of Mubarak.

However, the protesters vowed not to back down on theirdemand for Mubarak''s immediate ouster. "We have to be steadyto topple the government," Ahmed Abdel Moneim, a 22-year-oldstudent who has been sleeping in the Square for days, wasquoted as saying by the channel. "... If we have to spend ourlife (like this) to get rid of Mubarak, we will."

US President Barack Obama called several world leaders todiscuss the current situation in Egypt, emphasising the needfor immediate beginning of an "orderly peaceful transition".

Obama spoke to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of theUAE, British Prime Minister David Cameron and ChancellorAngela Merkel of Germany, the White House said.

"The President discussed his serious concern about thetargeting of journalists and human rights groups, andreaffirmed that the government of Egypt has a responsibilityto protect the rights of its people and to release immediatelythose who have been unjustly detained," it said.

"The President emphasised the importance of an orderly,peaceful transition, beginning now, to a government that isresponsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people,including credible, inclusive negotiations between thegovernment and the opposition," it said.

Separately, US Vice President Joe Biden called his newEgyptian counterpart Omar Suleiman to stress the need for"immediate steps" which demonstrate the Egyptian government''scommitment to reforms, the White House said. (More) PTI KIM

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